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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 28, 2010
CONTACT: DEP Press Office (850) 245-2112

Keys Eco-Discovery Center and Six Florida State Parks Named Best in Florida

~Florida Monthly Magazine readers voted in annual statewide survey~

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) Keys Eco-Discovery Center and six of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Florida State Parks were recently honored by Florida Monthly Magazine as part of the 2010 Best in Florida Awards. The annual awards covering a wide array of categories are voted on by the readers of Florida Monthly Magazine.

“We are honored six Florida State Parks and the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center are named as Best in Florida by Florida Monthly readers,” said DEP Secretary Mimi Drew. “As environmental stewards of Florida, it is DEP’s goal to manage our natural areas for both public enjoyment and conservation.”

The FKNMS Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center was named Best Nature Center. The Center features more than 6,000 square feet of interactive and dynamic exhibits including a mock-up of Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory. The Mote Marine Laboratory Living Reef exhibit includes a 2,500-gallon reef tank with living corals and tropical fish, a live Reef Cam and other displays that highlight the coral reef environment. The FKNMS is managed in partnership with DEP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Such a combined effort provides a comprehensive ecosystem management approach for the long-term protection of diverse natural resources in Keys waters.

Select Florida State Parks were recognized in the following categories:
  • Best Place to Hike – St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park
  • Best Place to Surf – Sebastian Inlet State Park
  • Best Manatee Observation Place – Blue Spring State Park
  • Best State Park – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
  • Best Place for a Picnic – Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach
  • Best Beach - Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Every year, Florida Monthly Magazine readers vote on the Best in Florida Awards. For more information on the list of honorees, visit www.floridamagazine.com

About Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS)
Few marine environments in the U.S. compare to the Florida Keys in terms of natural beauty and natural resources. The most extensive living coral reef in the United States is adjacent to the 126 mile island chain of the Florida Keys. The Keys are located on the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, beginning 60 miles south of Miami and ending just 90 miles north of Cuba. These coral reefs are intimately linked to a marine ecosystem that supports one of the most unique and diverse assemblages of plants and animals in North America. The 2,900 square nautical mile FKNMS surrounds the entire archipelago of the Florida Keys and includes the productive waters of Florida Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. To learn more visit www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/keys/.

About Florida State Parks
Created in 1935 by the Florida Legislature, the Florida State Park system has grown from eight to 160 parks in the last 75 years. Today, the Florida Park Service manages more than 700,000 acres of Florida’s natural environment, including 100 miles of beaches, eight National Historic Landmarks and 39 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Florida State Parks has been recognized by the National Recreation and Park Association as the nation’s first and only two-time Gold Medal winner for the nation’s best park service. To learn more visit www.floridastateparks.org

To learn more about Florida Monthly magazine visit www.floridamagazine.com

snorkle diver

"We are honored six Florida State Parks and the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center are named as Best in Florida by Florida Monthly readers."

Mimi Drew
DEP Secretary



Last updated: January 25, 2011

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